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Med Clin North Am. 1987 Sep;71(5):991-1001.

Obesity hypertension.


Obesity and hypertension are two major risk factors for the cardiovascular system. Whereas arterial hypertension increases afterload to the left ventricle, obesity produces an increase in stroke volume and increases preload. As a result of this double burden, the heart adapts with eccentric left ventricular hypertrophy. Contractility becomes impaired early in the course of obesity hypertension, and ventricular ectopy is observed. As a consequence, the obese hypertensive patient is at a high risk for congestive heart failure and sudden death. Despite the synergistic effects of obesity and hypertension on the heart, patients appear to be relatively protected from nephrosclerosis and coronary artery disease. These epidemiologic observations are supported by the pathophysiologic changes that take place in obesity hypertension. At any given level of arterial pressure, cardiac output and renal blood flow are elevated in obese hypertensive patients, whereas systemic and renal vascular resistance are decreased when compared to lean hypertensive patients. Because total peripheral resistance is considered the hemodynamic hallmark of arterial hypertension, systemic vascular complications may be less pronounced in obesity hypertension. Weight loss decreases preload, afterload to the left ventricle, and the sympathetic drive to the heart. Protecting the heart from these hypertrophic stimuli should be a major goal of preventive cardiology.

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